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A mission-minded approach to interpreting Scripture 


‘Gospel Portraits: Reading Scripture as Participants in the Mission of God” by K. Rex Butts, emerges as a transformative and insightful work, challenging conventional perspectives on Scripture and its role in the mission of God.

Butts masterfully encourages a rethinking of how Scripture is approached, emphasizing the importance of engaging with the Bible not just as a text to be studied but as a dynamic narrative that invites active participation in God’s ongoing mission.

K. Rex Butts. “Gospel Portraits: Reading Scripture as Participants in the Mission of God.” Wipf and Stock. 2022. 172 pages. $25.00.

K. Rex Butts. “Gospel Portraits: Reading Scripture as Participants in the Mission of God.” Wipf and Stock. 2022. 172 pages. $25.00.

The book is organized into four parts, each addressing a different aspect of reading and understanding Scripture in the context of God’s mission.

In Part One, “What’s Up With the Bible?” Butts explores the often-overlooked centrality of Jesus in scriptural interpretation and highlights the risks of reading the Bible in ways that inadvertently hinder the mission of God.

This section sets the stage for the subsequent chapters by underlining the need for a missional hermeneutic – an interpretative approach that aligns with the overarching narrative of God’s mission as revealed in Scripture.

Part Two, “Discipleship and the Church,” delves into the concept of the church as the embodied story of the Gospel. Butts convincingly argues that the church, when correctly understood and practiced, becomes a living testament to the gospel message, dynamically engaging with the world in a Christ-centered manner.

This section reinforces the idea that the church is not just an institution but a community of believers actively living out the gospel narrative.

In Part Three, “A Missional Reading of Scripture,” Butts advocates for a narrative reading of the Bible, encouraging readers to see the Scriptures as a unified story that culminates in Jesus Christ.

This perspective is refreshing and empowers readers to find their place within the biblical narrative, thus participating in the mission of God in a more informed and authentic way.

Finally, Part Four, “Christ-Formed and Spirit-Filled,” focuses on the practical implications of a missional hermeneutic for the church. Butts discusses the transformation that occurs when a church aligns itself with the mission of God, emphasizing the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding and empowering believers for this task.


Related: Editorial: Don’t reduce Scripture to partisan arguments


Throughout the book, Butts combines theological depth with practical insights, making the complex topic of hermeneutics accessible to a wide audience. His writing style is engaging and thought-provoking, often challenging readers to question their preconceptions and to reevaluate their approach to Scripture and mission.

In sum, “Gospel Portraits” is a must-read for anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of Scripture and its role in the Christian life.

“Butts offers a compelling vision of how engaging with the Bible can transform not only individual believers but also entire church communities, aligning them more closely with God’s mission.”

Butts offers a compelling vision of how engaging with the Bible can transform not only individual believers but also entire church communities, aligning them more closely with God’s mission.

This book is a valuable resource for preachers, church leaders and all Christians, providing a fresh and challenging perspective on the enduring relevance of Scripture in today’s world.

ORPHEUS J. HEYWARD is the minister for the Renaissance Church of Christ in Atlanta.

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Filed under: Bible book review Christian mission discipleship Features Gospel mission Hermeneutic Reviews Scripture Top Stories

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